Common Interview Questions – Are you prepared?

You should prepare well for any interview situation but these days researching the company and understanding the role is definitely not enough. Interviews can take many different forms but much emphasis is now placed on how you answer certain questions. Familiarize yourself with the most commonly asked ones and prepare some well thought through answers.

You may ask why? Consider this scenario:  You are feeling confident the interview has gone well so far, you have been given the opportunity to provide good examples of how your skills and experience would be of benefit to the company and then….you get asked a challenging question that you were not expecting! What do you do? Hesitate and become tongue tied or, like most people, blurt out whatever words come to mind first which you later realize didn’t make much sense or perhaps didn’t reflect you in the correct light?

Interviews have become ever more sophisticated and the inclusion of specific questions is designed to test you on all sorts of levels. Here is a list of the ten most common interview questions that you could be asked and suggestions on how best to respond. Some you may be familiar with, some not, but do you have well prepared answers for them?


Tell Me About Yourself?

This is typically the first question you will be asked once you’ve taken your seat and the interview formally starts. This is the opportunity for the interviewer to assess you as a person, both through what you say and your delivery. Remember, their first impression of you is of the utmost importance, so make sure you can answer it in a confident way – after all you know you better than anyone right? Keep it short and succinct, preferably no longer than 2 – 3 minutes.

So what should your reply cover?  Make sure you have done your research on what the company expects from the successful applicant, so include information on your qualifications, personality and work experience (making sure they are kept relevant to the position in question). And avoid going into detail about personal life, family etc. at this early stage.


What Are Your Weaknesses?

This seems tricky as, on one hand you want to give a favourable view of your personality and ability to do the job, while on the other, you don’t want to claim you have no weaknesses. There are several ways to answer double-edged questions like this.

So what should you disclose then? If you have thoroughly gone through the company’s profile and the job advert and description (make sure you have access to this prior to the interview), you will know the qualities the job requires, what are considered strengths and what are not.

With this knowledge you know what will be considered a weakness by the interviewer, so you can admit to those which you have that are irrelevant to the job in question. Whatever weaknesses you state, make sure your answer is a positive one by making sure you have examples of how you have overcome them in past roles.


What Is Your Greatest Achievement?

Although the interviewer is asking you about your greatest achievement, you still have to choose one that is of most relevance professionally rather than personally. This is a good opportunity to highlight how you can contribute to the company if you are successfully recruited, so focus on an achievement that applies to the position. For example, if the role requires a significant amount of problem solving and troubleshooting, you might want to recount how you resolved a persistent problem that had plagued your company for years. Explain clearly and simply the challenge, solution and outcome and wherever possible, always quantify your results in terms of savings made and increased productivity.


What Would You Like To Be Doing Five Years From Now?

This question is included to find out whether you are committed to the job and to ascertain if you are somebody who sets goals in life. It’s an undisputable fact that people who set mid and long term goals are more reliable than those who don’t.  Knowing what you want in life says a lot about your personality, for example as a person who can lead and stay motivated.


Your answer should assure the interviewer that your career progression goals are in line with the actual future plans for the company. As such, it is crucial that you do your homework on the company’s future plans so that you know what to expect for yourself and whether it will meet your long-term career objectives.


Why Do You Want To Work With Us?

This is the question designed to give your interviewer an indication of how much you know about the organization, their culture and whether you can identify with the company’s vision and values. Every business has its strong points; just make sure you focus on these in your answer. For example, if the company emphasizes its integrity with customers, then you should mention that you would like to be in such a team because you yourself believe in integrity in business.

If your values are not in line with those of the company, ask yourself honestly if you would be happy working there. Whatever you do – don’t focus on the package on offer, this will show that you could be someone who will easily move onto another company if the price is right. Make sure your answer focuses on 2 or 3 key points which match with the organization’s ethos.


Why Did You Apply For This Position?

Don’t at any point focus on the package on offer! Or for that matter, avoid giving the impression that you have applied purely because you need to make a living.

In fact, the best way to answer this question is to spend some time examining what you like about both the role and the company. It is likely you will find something such as the culture, work environment or role your job will play in the future success of the business.

Once you know why you want this job, you can then prepare a response that will relate to how well you fit with the position. For example, if you like the analysis work involved because you enjoy discovering more about customer behaviors, bring up that inquisitive nature of yours. Convince them that you are can offer the majority if not all the skills and traits they require and above all convince the interviewer that you will be an asset to the company.


Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

Here, the interviewer is trying to gauge how much the job fits to your expectations. You may have quit your last job because you were unhappy about something or you may actually have no opportunity for career progression in your current role. There could be a wide variety of reasons for leaving a job. Whatever your reason is, the interviewer wants to make sure that you will be committed to their role and the business and not leave because your expectations are not met.

But whatever your reason – make sure you put a positive spin on your answer. Never complain about what made you unhappy or make derogatory remarks about colleagues or management – this is a real no, no in interviews. Instead focus on your career goals and how the job you are applying for provides a better environment for growth than your previous or current one. Emphasize what you have learned in your most recent role and the valuable skills you can now offer.


Why Should We Hire You?

This is the answer where you link your skills, experience, education and your personality to the job itself. So you must be utterly familiar with the job description as well as the company culture. Always remember to include actual examples of your experience and achievements to date.


It is possible that you may not have as much skills, experience or qualifications as the other candidates. So what can you say that will set you apart from the rest? People are attracted to someone who is charismatic, who can show honest enthusiasm and drive and who clearly loves what it is that they do. When you emphasize your compatibility with the job and company, be sure to portray yourself as a motivated, confident and energetic person, who could be a real asset to the team in which they work.


What Are Your Salary Expectations?

You should really avoid going into detail on this topic until you are offered the job. However most interviewers can and do ask this question. Salary negotiation is a tough and delicate matter and some may use this question hoping that you will be the first to give a figure and set the benchmark. The repercussions of this are you could get a job offer but not at either the salary you want, or one that is market average right now.

If you have applied via a recruitment consultancy, then discuss this in detail with them prior to the interview. As part of their service they will negotiate the best package possible for you if you are offered the job, which will be in line with the salary range the company is offering.

If you have applied direct, the company may well have advertised a salary range. A good rule of thumb would be to state a figure within that, at what level is your choice.  You should know your market, and if you are offering a rare skill set this means you may well be able to command a salary well above the average in your field – just don’t be greedy!

At other times, this question is designed to let interviewers see if money is the only thing that matters. So, remember to emphasize that your priority lies with the job and not just the pay packet.


Do You Have Any Questions?

This is normally the last question you will be asked before the interview ends, so it’s your chance to finish the interview on a real positive. Even if you don’t believe this is the role for you, make sure you have at least 3 prepared questions and ask them. Replying that you’ve got nothing to ask will always leave the impression to the interviewer that you are not really interested in the job.

The interviewer is going to be attracted to proactive candidates who ask intelligent questions. Make sure they aren’t those with obvious answers that you could easily get if you had done your research thoroughly. Instead, try to incorporate your knowledge of the industry and the company into a question that will address a genuine concern of yours. That way, you get to impress your interviewer and assess for a final time whether the job aligns with your expectations.

A good question to ask is what your chances are of landing the job, but make sure to word it in the right way! Thank them taking the time to interview you and express your enthusiasm for the position before asking if there is any reservation for hiring you. This will be your final chance to address any concerns the interviewer might have of employing you. Stay calm and reply objectively rather than taking any criticism personally.


Hopefully these tips give you some food for thought in your interview preparation – planning really is worthwhile, answering succinctly to any question posed ensures you will come across as confident, positive, decisive and organized.

Harnham blog & news

With over 10 years experience working solely in the Data & Analytics sector our consultants are able to offer detailed insights into the industry.

Visit our News & Blogs portal or check out our recent posts below.

Bridging the Gap: The Role of a DevOps Engineer

Siloed teams are swiftly becoming a thing of the past as organizations learn collaboration is key. Businesses are embracing transformation. But some may not know where to turn to help them manage such a massive restructuring of operations. Enter the DevOps Engineer. Yes, Virginia. The unicorn employee does exist. What is a DevOps Engineer? For many businesses, it’s a dream to find a technical person who can also communicate across departments. In the DevOps Engineer role is an IT Generalist who not only has a deep understanding of codes, infrastructure management, and agile familiarity but who also possesses interpersonal skills. It’s this combination that makes this role so imperative to businesses. Working across siloes and bringing teams together for collaboration bridges the gap between the technical and non-technical departments. One of their most important roles is as advocate. Moving from siloed teams to the more collaborative environment of a DevOps culture can be difficult for engineering team members. But as advocate for the benefits, the DevOps Engineer can explain it best to those with whom they’ve worked. Their technical expertise puts them on par with their peers and their interpersonal skills offer a way to communicate across the organization.   Want to Restructure Your Skills toward DevOps? If you’re an IT Generalist with great communication skills. DevOps Engineer could be your next role. But what skills do you need and how might you streamline what you already know into this key role for many businesses? Technical skills depend on team structure, technologies in place, and tools already in use. But the key element of a DevOps Engineer is their strong communication and collaborative skills. Can you morph your technical world into layman’s terms for the executives? Can you translate different needs across teams from QA testers to software developers, generalists and specialists alike? It’s this deep understanding which makes you so valuable to employers. For many organizations, this is the best of both worlds.  Knowing the pros and cons of available tools. Understanding the components of a delivery pipeline. And strong communication skills to bridge once siloed teams into a cohesive and collaborative environment. More technical skills include, but aren’t limited to System administration – such as managing servers, database deployment, and system patching just to name a few.Experience with DevOps tools – understand the lifecycle from building and infrastructure to operating and monitoring a product or service.Configuration management – experience with configuration management tools such as Chef, Puppet, or Ansible to automate admin tasks.Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Deployment (CD) – this is a core practice of DevOps. It’s this role’s approach to software development with tools to automate the building, testing, and deploying of software processes. System architecture and provisioning – ability to design and manage computer ecosystems whether in-office or in the cloud. Within this skillset is the importance of Infrastructure as Code (IaC). This is an IT management process that applies best practices from software development to cloud infrastructure management.  Collaborative management skills – while the CI/CD skills are core to the technical side, this is one of the key components for the soft skills required for a DevOps structure. In a Nutshell DevOps (Development + Operations) is a practice that involves new management principles and requires a cultural change. And a DevOps Engineer is the heart of the transformation. Yet they can’t do it alone. A good DevOps Team has more than just one engineer. It involves a mix of generalists and specialists to implement and improve these practices within the software development cycle. A few of these roles include:  DevOps evangelist Automation expert Software developer Quality assurance  If you’re interested in Big Data and Analytics, Harnham may have a role for you. Check out our current vacancies or contact one of our expert consultants to learn more.  For our West Coast Team, contact us at (415) 614 - 4999 or send an email to  For our Mid-West and East Coast teams contact us at (212) 796-6070 or send an email to  

Amped Up Analytics: Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4 has amped up data insights into the behaviors and preferences of your customers. Where once each touchpoint only tracked what had been clicked, GA4 is bringing it all together in a more wholistic approach to the customer journey. As the fourth quarter of 2020 dawned, Google upped its game. Crafting a compelling array of features with machine learning at its core, this new platform offers a more customer-centric approach to data-driven insights, rather than split data across platforms and devices.   Though still in its infancy, there are some dramatic new changes afoot. And while it’s not a good idea to get rid of the old Universal Analytics platform before ringing in the new one, it is a good idea to understand what’s available now and what may come to be over time. Four Advantages to Google Analytics 4.0 From our desktop to our laptop to our smartphone, we carry our office in our pocket or on our lap. So, what better way to integrate what was once called “App + Web properties” into a more cohesive trackable measurement of data. Add to this the privacy protocols in place to protect customers, and Google Analytics 4 offers flexibility for future cookieless tracking and permissions, and advantages are revealed. Combined Data and Reporting Rather than focusing on one property (web or app) at a time, this platform allows marketers to track a customer’s journey more holistically.  The platform’s premise is that there is a pattern everyone follows. From the moment a customer visits your website to clicks on a button subscribing to your newsletter or blog – Acquisition and Engagement. To the moment your customer makes a purchase, is happy with the product or sevice, and comes back again – Monetization and Retention.  Designed for marketers who want to track users across multiple formats, Google Analytics 4 hopes to solve with Data Streams. These Data Streams merge to paint a picture of the customer journey from website visit to purchase. A Focus on Anonymized Data This anonymization answers the call to Data Privacy and third-party data collection. Crafting a unified user journey centered around machine learning to fill in any gaps, marketers and businesses have a way to get the information they need without diving into personal data issues. This is a key change in that Google is moving away from client-side focus and using server-side and customer-centric capabilities. With GDPR and privacy laws in full swing, marketers face enhanced privacy regulations as cookies are phased out or blocked. Predictive Metrics and Audiences Using Machine Learning to predict future transactions is a game changer for the platform. These predictive metrics for e-commerce sites on Google properties allow for targeted ads to visitors who seem most likely to make a purchase within one week of visiting the site.  Though focused on e-commerce sites now and based on transactions and revenue, there is an opportunity for marketers to identify and convert based on such leads as video views or form submissions. Machine Learning-Driven Insights The launch announcement for GA4 explains it “has machine learning at its core to automatically surface helpful insights and gives you a complete understanding of your customers across devices and platforms.” Machine Learning-driven insights include details that elude human analysts.  What These Changes Mean on the Digital Frontier We’re all reaching for higher value and Google Analytics 4.0 brings it into one unified platform for the future. As we make the shift from traditional Google Analytics to its 4.0 version, there is opportunity to get more creative.   Wondering if you should upgrade? This article breaks down the pros and cons to help you decide.  If you’re interested in Big Data & Analytics, Harnham may have a role for you. Check out our current vacancies or contact one of our expert consultants to learn more.  For our West Coast Team, contact us at (415) 614 - 4999 or send an email to  For our Mid-West and East Coast teams contact us at (212) 796-6070 or send an email to  

Making Sense of Unstructured Data with NLP

Natural Language Processing. It seems a simple enough explanation. The idea is to make computers sound like native speaking humans regardless of their language. Except there’s one problem. When we speak, we don’t follow our own rules of grammar. We use idioms, metaphors, abbreviations, and oftentimes use more body language to communicate than we realize.  So, what’s a poor machine to do when confronted with such an unstructured melee of data? Well, since semantics is not what you say it’s how you say it, we must teach computers to read between the lines. Of code. Enter NLP. The semantics of human language written for a machine to help make sense of our human behaviors gets organized. The Perfect Imperfections of Language Computers require structure. Natural language does not. Teaching machines how we communicate is no easy task, and yet we use machines that can do this every day. By combining technology and Machine Learning we begin to teach computers how to understand us. We teach them how to interpret and determine what it was we want done. When you’re asking Siri or Alexa a question, you’re helping them to learn how you ask, so they can better respond, and they make you more efficient. It’s a win-win for everyone. In business, using NLP techniques to drive business decisions is even more important. Now, the computer must decide what information is the most valuable to pull from a pile of Data. Understanding our choices, our tone, even the words we choose to use, helps our machines learn what we want to do or need done. Where is NLP Used? Since we use different rules when we speak than when we write, our computers learn how we talk and how to use language more naturally. Wondering where NLP might be used? In a word or two? Nearly everywhere. You are scheduling a meeting and when it’s time, a calendar reminder pops into your phone which says estimated drive time to the meeting based on traffic conditions in your area. Or you ask Alexa to play your favorite music list from Pandora.  Every touchpoint in this scenario is using NLP. We naturally might get into our car, ask our Virtual Assistant navigation system for directions, or to play our favorite music. Our choices don’t fit in a box and may not be logical, but the more we teach the machines, the closer they may get to understanding the nuances of our language. Here are 5 more ways we use NLP every day: Predictive text on your phone or in your Word document. Chatbots and Virtual Assistants to ensure customers are acknowledged in a timely manner, answer basic questions or redirect to appropriate personnel, and making suggestions to improve the customer experience.Curating social media feeds to determine customer needs and interest.Grammar correction software so our emails and business documents are error-free.Analyzing customer interactions using comments and reviews for customer feedback about a product or service. There’s a ton of information to be filtered, sorted, sifted, and analyzed, and NLP is just one of the tools Data Scientists use. Interested in the subfield of NLP? Check out this article for 6 techniques you need to know to get started. Already well-versed in the industry and looking for a new challenge? If you’re interested in Big Data and Analytics, Advanced Analytics, Life Sciences, Data Science, or any of our Data professional fields, we may have a role for you. Review our current vacancies or contact one of our expert consultants to learn more.   For our West Coast Team, contact us at (415) 614 - 4999 or send an email to   For our Mid-West and East Coast teams contact us at (212) 796-6070 or send an email to  

Smile: How Tech is Transforming the Dental Industry In 3D

Ever wondered what’s new at the dentist’s office? If you’re in the hot seat for dentures, crowns, or braces, you may be surprised at the speed you find yourself with a new smile.  Imagine a new set of teeth printed layer by layer before your eyes. Ok, before your dentist’s eyes. 3D printing has been used to print prosthetic limbs, orthopedic and cranial implants, surgical instruments, crowns, and dental restorations.  Electronic Health Records. AI-assisted surgeries. Machine Learning algorithms for more efficient workflows in hospitals and doctors’ offices. Medical technology isn’t new. But what about dental technology? In the Life Sciences field, technology is helping to shape the future of how we heal.  What is 3D Printing? According to the FDA, “3D printing is a process that creates a three-dimensional object by building successive layers of raw material. Each new layer is attached to the previous one until the object is complete. Objects are produced from a 3D file, such as computer-aided design (CAD) drawing or a Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI). The flexibility of this technology allows creation of individualized products such as prosthetics, dentures, or crowns specific to the individual requiring the device.  “It’s Not the Drill, It’s the Bill” Borrowed from an old commercial, the tagline originally implied patients weren’t afraid of the dentist, but of the bill at the end of the appointment. But with today’s technologies, particularly through the benefits of 3D printing, this tagline isn’t quite so dramatic. Here are a few ways, 3D printing in dentistry is benefitting both doctor and patient.  1. The Lab is Onsite Cost savings begin here. When the dentist can do his or her own lab work onsite, it’s less cost to consumers and to the dentist office’s bottom line. Add in the user-friendliness of the available 3D machines which allows dentists to produce molds, models, crowns, bridges, there’s plenty of opportunity to be more efficient and have more control over time and quality of the product.  3D Printers range in price from $20,000-$100,000+ for industrial printers. If you have a dental practice, you could most likely snag a desktop model for around $6,000 or less. Compare that to over $100,000 for outsourcing lab work, labor, and shipping costs included. 2. Getting it Right – More Accurate and Faster Services Reduce errors and increase accuracy when using 3D printing to convert digital images into physical objects within minutes. Watch as your patient’s dentures, for example, are printed layer-by-layer and usable with minutes, not hours or days.  Your technician can get to work as soon as the scan is ready and won’t be inhaling plaster or grinding dust while they work. A clean work space is a safe work space, no matter the industry. 3. Better Quality Products  Skilled dental technicians are still in high demand. But with the advent of 3D printing, their jobs are made a bit easier, and they’re able to design and create better quality products. Milled models could wear down over time. But a 3D model offers more stability and durability than its predecessor. Additionally, this digital model creates a more complex structure and offers a higher level of detail that may not be available in more traditional modeling techniques. 4. Enhanced Patient Experience 3D printing technologies have enhanced patient experience by reducing anxiety and increasing patient acceptance. How? Well, when you can print a model to help explain what’s going to be happening to identify and solve a patient’s problems, it can help alleviate their stresses of the unknown. Add to this a more efficient workflow, more aesthetically pleasing products, and less invasive treatments which make the patient’s visit go more smoothly, and you have a satisfied customer. 5. Save Money Last, but not least, is probably the biggest benefit to both patient and provider. Saving money. Though the upfront investment in a 3D can run into around $20,000 for a top model, it includes all the necessary components printer, reduces the need for skilled staff to produce dentures, implants, and other dental restorative models.  These savings are then passed on to the patient not only monetary value, but in time. The more accurate, efficiency, and speed of 3D printers means less time at the dentist’s office. Less return visits. Less error. With an estimated savings up to 80 percent depending on patient’s needs Smile. Tech is transforming the dental industry. Want to see where it can take you? If you’re interested in Big Data & Analytics, Advanced Analytics, Life Sciences, Data Science, or any of our Data professional fields, we may have a role for you. Check out our current vacancies or contact one of our expert consultants to learn more.  For our West Coast Team, contact us at (415) 614 - 4999 or send an email to  For our Mid-West and East Coast teams contact us at (212) 796-6070 or send an email to  

Recently Viewed jobs